In my first year at University, I had a roommate whose new boyfriend was very generous. At this time, I held the belief that if you truly loved someone you didn’t need a reason to. You just loved them. If you could actually say why you loved someone, then it wasn’t real. As time went on I stretched this theory even further: it is wrong to love someone because of things they do.
Now this roommate of mine, every time her boyfriend did something for her, would say in her very Deltan accent, “Why I no go love?” I remember the particular episode that irritated me the most. The guy showed up with a carton of provisions for her, dropped it off, and left. She started bringing out the items and setting them on the table; milk, sugar, sardines, corned beef, cocoa, cornflakes, margarine, biscuits, juice…and when she was done she smiled and looked at us, “Why I no go looove?”
I thought there was no way this love could ever be real. How materialistic, ugh! As time went on I tended towards relationships where I received little or nothing, where I just gave and gave and gave and felt the joys of martyrdom as I received nothing in return. In my mind, this was real love, giving without receiving. Oh, the folly of my youth!
Thankfully (to the glory of God and to the shame of the devuuuuuu!) I have grown from a very poor receiver into an excellent receiver (this is the point where you decide to send me a gift, thank you!). And I’ve come to realise that everyone loves someone for a reason; the less obvious the reason, the more self-righteous you can afford to be about your love. True, you can just click with someone and feel naturally fond of them, but the truth is that they are doing something for you. And if what someone else is getting out of their relationship is different from what you’re getting out of yours, that doesn’t make you better than them. Someone you love may not be buying you stuff, but they’re feeding you in some way, no matter how imperceptible. From the way they make you feel, be it powerful or beautiful, to the way they need you (and lord, how you need them to need you!) it comes down to the same thing: your love for them is a response to something they gave or are giving.
So miss me with that “Does she really love me or is it just because of the things I do?” As our people say, “all join.” Of course there are people who don’t love you at all, and are just out to use you for what they can get. Yet there are those who do love you not just for who you are but also for what you do for them, and that does not make their love any less authentic. Even for my roommate with her box of provisions, what looked like materialism to my teenage mind was just her falling deeper in love with someone who was caring and giving.
Even God, the Creator Himself, accepts that we love Him because He first loved us and showed us that love by what He gave and continues to give. So what are we saying?
I recently shared with my friends about one time when my husband had a project to execute and everything had been done except the last bit that required small money we didn’t have. We had already put in everything we had, so we started asking friends and family to lend to us, but it was one of those times of the year when cash is generally tight, so we couldn’t find anyone. The deadline was Tuesday and if we didn’t deliver, then everything else we had already spent would have been for nothing. By Saturday we didn’t have anybody else to ask, so we just held hands and thanked God for His eyes that never left us. Tired, we rested.
The following day in church, a man we only knew from sitting in the same area on Sundays slipped some dollars into hubby’s pocket. Converted to naira, it was exactly the amount we needed at the time! Not only did we complete the project, when our cheque came we didn’t have to return the money as we would have if we had found someone to lend us.
I can’t lie and say my love for God didn’t find new dimensions as I pondered what He had used this man to do. Abeg, why I no go loooove?